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Danks for the Memories... the Unexpurgated Version

Tuesday 3 June, 1997
Flats and Foibles

I made my way to the Wetlands after work, to meet my friend Nile, with whom I was attending the first Dankster edition at the Saint in Asbury Park, NJ. However, the moment we exited the Holland Tunnel, cruising happily into the pollution-beautiful sunset over Jersey City, we got a flat tire. Luckily, the ironically-named "Moe and Moe's Used Auto Body" got us a new (albeit mud-encrusted) wheel for about $20. I raised my camera, and took a snapshot of the sign, grinning with disbelief.

Night cruisin', we soon discovered we had no idea where the place was. The air through the window got cooler, and soon downright moist and cold as we made our way to the shore. No direction! We found a shop, hopped out, and asked. The grizzled old woman in the lime green top was a cryptic oracle: "Around the traffic circle, through the pines, past the Caldor, past the Coca-Cola bottlers, past the..." We kept driving, and got lost.

The ocean roared, and I stood on the boardwalk holding my hair back and looking around. A drunk man told me to look for the Laundromat, a girl who said she was a witch told us to go left, a teenager on a bike asked if I liked silver. I said yes.

We got to The Saint at 10:30 PM, in the middle of Max and Tom's set. I was filthy, and wearing a ski hat with dangling pom-poms on strings. We'd missed Gibb Droll. I was incensed.

But as the rest of the show went on, I was thrilled. The atmosphere was quirky, steeped in the Saint's blend of collected semi-nostalgic Jersey Shore knickknacks and pop-culture detritus. With a age-varied crowd, comprised largely of veteran area moe.showgoers, who crept out on a Tuesday night out to see what the fuss was all about, the atmosphere was warm, despite the uncharacteristic coolness outside. One could clearly hear and observe bursts of (often whiskey-induced) hysterics issuing from the performers as they beheld what was rapidly unfolding, coming and going from the stage. The preceding day's "practice session" with Gans, Garvey and Gibb was all that was experienced in the way of preparation. I might now add that the way of the Dankster is also terminal randomness.

I liken the show at the Saint to the maiden voyage of the first air-flight vehicle, engineered by the Wright brothers. Fraught with uncertainty, the outcome was engaging and a bit humorous, and electrifying, without high technology. Max and Tom mixed it up, with a Dylan tune, one of their band's own, and one from the Boston noir-ish and sultry Boston band, Morphine, among others. Peter Prince left many a jaw hanging agape with the stomp and twitch of his mostly self-composed, soul-eruption antics.

Finally, in what was meant to be the "main event" of sorts, Gans and his band of able sidemen took the stage. All went fairly smoothly, through performances of the man's sometimes funny and rhythmic, and often sweet and poignant, but always lyrical tunes. Covers were also thrown in; that night's first Pink Floyd-tinged rendition of Elton John's "Rocket Man" slithered and soared. With strong and limber support by all, each filling in on rhythm, and thrills and spills from Gans, Garvey and Ruch on alternate leads, the selection was spirited.

In the end, all parties got on stage and rediscovered, in my opinion, the art of the group jam for the late 90's. This lost trade, so badly done by so many, carried just the right balance of harmony, entropy and symbolic influence. The Dead's "Goin' Down the Road Feelin' Bad" was one of the rollicking closers to finish out (but definitely not prophesy bad tidings) for the next four nights, of which I will now provide some highlights.

<< BACKWARDS TO the introduction

ONWARDS TO 4 June >>


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